From Pioneer Stock: Kerry Jamieson


Colleen Slater, KP News

Kerry Jamieson’s roots reach back four and five generations to families who settled in Vaughn over 100 years ago.


Dudley Harriman of Maine traveled up Puget Sound in 1888 to find homestead land. He bought 160 acres on Case Inlet, stretching south a mile from the Vaughn sand spit. He deeded the land to son Louis, who arrived soon after with his wife, Mamie, and sons, Earl and Glen.

Louis and Mamie built their home and large barn on Vaughn Bay, overlooking the sandspit. They planted the first vineyard in the Vaughn area, a large orchard and garden.

Their son, Glen, operated a series of boats from Vaughn from 1916 until 1936. “Dora,” “Seawolf,” and then “Loren” carried local produce, eggs, butter, and seafood to Olympia, as well as passengers, mail, and other needed freight.

Glen and Esther Austin, childhood friends at Vaughn, married while he was stationed in San Diego in the Navy. Her father, Henry Austin began his working career as a cabin boy in the English Navy at age 11. He caught yellow fever in South America, jumped ship on the East Coast of the United States, and joined the U.S. Navy. He retired on medical disability some months later and traveled to Chicago. Austin acquired some tattoos in his naval travels, including a full-rigged, three-mast ship under full sail on his chest.

He met Margaret Mary O’Neill, a nanny from Ireland, in a park. They married and headed west, arriving at Stansbury Lake (later Lewis, and now Lake Holiday) by 1890. The Jamiesons own a rocker the Austins bought in a second-hand shop in Chicago.

In 1894, Austin purchased acreage from John High, previous Harriman land. Mamie Harriman and Maggie Austin became neighbors, friends, and midwives to each other.

Maggie Austin preferred clear spring water to her well water for washing clothes. In good weather, she loaded her laundry atop a horse for the half-mile trip down to Harriman’s beach. She built a big beach fire to heat water for washing. The horse carried the damp clothes back to be hung to dry.

The Austins agreed to pay High from half the proceeds of the farm each year until paid in full. When daughter Ellen contracted tuberculosis and died after birthing a premature daughter, High sent a sympathetic letter to the family and cancelled the remaining debt.

Glen and Esther built their first home overlooking Vaughn Bay, between the two sets of parents. When daughter Margaret was 5, the family moved up the bay to the old Bassett home (now Shirleys), and later, built a home on the southern end of the Harriman property (now Taylors).

Jamieson, son of Margaret, attended Vaughn school through third grade, then the family moved to Artondale and bought property on Wollochet Bay. Jamieson’s father barged a 40- by 70-foot rooming house from Steilacoom, which they remodeled into a home. Jamieson said it was fun to have so many bedrooms to choose from.

By fifth grade, they moved back to Vaughn, but lived in Gig Harbor when Jamieson was in high school.

He always had an interest in boats, although never lived on the waterfront as an adult. Jamieson operated a tugboat for awhile, towing logs from Shelton for the Johnson Brothers of Lakebay. While in high school, he built a Criscraft 13-foot runabout. The transom included was the wrong size, and he found the boat quickly turned end to end. Jamieson has stories to tell of his fun with that. His current boat is an “electric” yacht he converted when the engines needed replacing.

Jamieson’s wife, Helen, picked strawberries for Elsie Olson soon after moving to Vaughn. She was slow, but a clean picker. Olson put her behind the fastest picker — Jamieson, who picked 60 flats a day.

A former cabinet maker, Jamieson is an environmental specialist and lab technician for Holroyd, a sand and gravel company.

He moved a lot in his growing up years, but he’s stayed in one place the last 31, planting his own roots firmly on the peninsula.